Michigan State University Extension
Preserving Food Safely - 01600598


General Information                                         

     There are two classifications of pickles, fermented and
fresh pack.   Fermented pickles (also called brined pickles)
are  prepared  by  soaking cucumbers in  brine  for  several
weeks.   During this period lactic acid bacteria,  which are
salt  tolerant,  produce lactic acid from natural sugars  in
cucumbers.  Lactic acid not only preserves  the  pickles but
also   imparts  a   characteristic  flavor.   Most  spoilage
microorganisms  cannot tolerate the saltiness of  the  brine
and die.   Yeasts,  which require air, grow as a scum on the
surface  of  brine.   This scum of yeasts should be  removed
daily  because  they  destroy the lactic  acid  produced  by
bacterial fermentation and produce enzymes which break  down
pectic  substances  in  the pickles,  making them  soft  and

     Fresh-pack pickles are prepared by soaking cucumbers in
brine for a few hours or overnight,  then draining them  and
covering   them   with  a  boiling  hot  pickling   solution
containing vinegar and spices.  They are not fermented.  The
vinegar,  which should be 5 percent acetic acid, acts as the
preservative.   The  short  brining   procedure  serves  two
purposes.   First,  it removes bitter juices present in some
cucumbers  and  enhance  the uptake  of  pickling  solution,
resulting in a firmer product.   Too strong a brine shrivels
the  cucumbers.   Too weak a brine removes too little water,
thus making possible undue dilution of the pickling solution
with resulting spoilage.                                    

     Processing in a boiling-water canner is recommended for
both fermented and fresh-pack pickles.                      

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